Emily Fisher has had a long day. She’s had to confront Sonia, walk into town during a rain storm, get shot at, and meet yet another half-sister. What Emily needs is down time, a chance to recuperate. She’s not going to get it. For earlier events, whether from hours ago or years ago, have consequences that come raining down on her head in “Alex Bancroft’s women,” chapter 16 of Prophecies and Penalties. It’s a long chapter, folks, so be prepared to spend some time reading it.
After so many weeks on this story, it seemed time to redesign the banner. I’d been holding off for so long because no compelling image seemed to be emerging out of the story. Well, you might remember that Emily put pentagrams on things as a teenager as part of her pretense of being evil. Turns out there’s more to the pentagrams than that, as this chapter demonstrates. So I’ve borrowed a pentagram design from the noted occultist Eliphas Levi (real name Alphonse Louis Constant, 1810 – 1875). Despite being long-winded and not as brilliant as he thought he was, Levi’s synthesis of magic has been very influential in the history of the occult. You probably recognize the picture on the right, another one of Levi’s creations. His pentagram design is by no means so sinister. In Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Rituals (1854-56, translated by A. E. Waite in 1896), Levi explains it thus:
The Pentagram signifies the domination of the mind over the elements, and by this sign are enchained the demons of the air, the spirits of fire, the phantoms of the water, and ghosts of earth. Equipped with this sign, and suitably disposed, you may behold the infinite through the medium of that faculty which is like the soul’s eye, and you will be ministered unto by legions of angels and hosts of fiends.
In other words, whether you use this sign for good or evil depends on you. That’s the way magic ought to work, if you ask me.
As far as I know, the pentagram is a Pagan symbol. Easy to see how the Church would turn it into the devil’s symbol – every non-Christian belief would be deserving this title…
It’s more complicated than that. Early Christians once used the pentagram as a symbol of the 5 wounds of Christ. Previous to that, it represented the 5 seeds used by Chronos (Universal God, thus equating to the Christian’s God) to create the Cosmos. It wasn’t until Eliphas Levi adopted it and named it ‘evil’ that it acquired its sinister diabolical associations.
As with any symbol, the pentagram itself is neither good nor bad. It depends upon how the user perceives it, and that, to expand on your point, depends on the historical and cultural context.
What a tangled web you weave…the tapestry of your tale becomes curiouser and curiouser!! Will Friday bring any answers….or further wrinkles?
There will be some answers, which is not to say that there won’t be more curves!
In an age where everything gets edited because digitizing gives us that power to alter, things are not always what they seem. The writer has that power too….to edit our perceptions deftly by introducing a new person or a new fact about a person or a new event. I always find it interesting that you can listen to the prosecution and feel certain of guilt and then get completely turned around hearing evidence from the other side. It is interesting how our emotions change despite the desire for reason. So what fun to be able to ride the imagination of a good story teller and find good where there was perceived evil or vice versa! Great fun!! You do a great job!
Thank you. Funny you should mention trials — I am writing about 10 chapters ahead at this point, and have just finished Emily’s trial. Trial for what? Trial by whom? Heh, heh, you will find out . . . someday! Though I can offer a hint: it involves something that happened in this chapter.
Oh I do like the new banner. Its like the devils trap on the show Supernatural I’ve been enjoying on Netflix lately.
At some point I’m going to have to catch up on supernatural series on TV, but for now following the rather mediocre “Salem” is about all I can manage.